The second of our two-day Great Ocean Road return trip sees us leave the Twelve Apostles after a morning of photo stops, followed by an hour’s delay while we search fruitlessly for a lost earring!
So by the time we drive back to Apollo Bay and up into the hills to Forrest, it’s a late lunch for us. What we do know now is that in winter the one place you can grab a warm bite to eat after 2pm is La Bimba.
We have arranged to chat with Bruce Jackson at Otway Eco Tours on our way home. I have seen platypus at Healesville Sanctuary in the Dandenongs on the other side of Melbourne, but never in the wild.
So, here we are sitting on Bruce’s porch in Forrest, chatting about the wonderful wildlife that he regularly shows people in the area around his home.
Bruce and his family moved from Melbourne via Torquay – as a keen surfer he still visits Torquay often. He has a degree in biological science and chooses to utilise his knowledge by showing people the secret lives of our native animals.
While we’re with Bruce, we get to see both a male and female bowerbird – a thrill for me as I am mad about birds and didn’t even know that bowerbirds are common in the Otways. Bruce says we were particularly lucky to see the male as he is quite shy and there are fewer males around.
We make plans to return to Forrest with our family in the summer to paddle along Lake Elizabeth and see the platypus.
Around 4pm we’re on the road again, in an attempt to reach Birregurra before the shops close. There are two shops I particularly want to visit: Chez Georgie and Mr Ted and The Birregurra Bower. Don’t worry boys, there is a good café and a bookshop too!
This is real country driving and it’s essential to follow the map and the signs carefully. This tiny town once had one of the most famous country restaurants run by George Biron at Sunnybrae – one of our favourite haunts. George only runs occasional events now, and we always try to book because his style of cooking relates so strongly to place, so the food is always fresh and beautifully presented. Get in touch with us for more information if this sounds like your kind of thing.
An hour and a half of clothes and handbag shopping later, I am very happy and Tim has been engagingly entertained by another George, the dress shop owner’s husband, with good coffee and chat.
Our final leg home is in the dark and takes us another 45 minutes.
Along with some special purchases, we have brought back to Torquay a fresh appreciation of the wonderful area we are privileged to live in. This is why we have chosen to devote ourselves to showing visitors the real experience of the Great Ocean Road, not just a fleeting view of the sights from the window of a bus.
While this is a great two-day tour, it really isn’t long enough. If you are coming a long distance to see this wonderful region, we advise staying an extra day or two. Start out with us in Torquay and take your time exploring the region with day trips out of Torquay, or a 2-4-day tour of the road, returning to Torquay for a few more days of R&R at the end.
If you can spare no more than a day, you could drive from Torquay to Apollo Bay and fly over the Apostles before driving back. But staying a while is far more preferable. We can help with bookings for accommodation, meals and tours – just get in touch to discuss your requirements with us.